Whitaker Wright

  The website devoted to the life and times of the world's most notorious swindler




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A Cartoonist's Dream

Unsurprisingly, Whitaker Wright was the subject of numerous contemporary cartoons. Indeed, there are more satirical sketches of him in existence than there are photographs. With his massive girth and pouchy face he was a cartoonist’s dream.

Drawings of him appeared in newspapers across the world. When an aggrieved stockbroker, John Flower, won a High Court application in 1903 to have Wright prosecuted, the Colonial Goldfields Gazette ran a cartoon depicting WW as a naughty schoolboy. ‘Now, Sir, I want you to explain how you came to get these sums wrong,’ schoolmaster ‘John Bull’ asks him as ‘Monitor Flower’ hands him the birch.





Wright’s subsequent conviction led Americans to reflect that U.S. financiers such as J.P.Morgan and Charles Schwab were in much the same mould as their notorious British counterpart. One American newspaper depicted J.P.Morgan narrowly missing the ‘cliffs of crime’ in his wagon. The caption had him saying: ‘That reckless Whitaker Wright has gone over the cliff. I always knew he was a bungling driver.’





Another American cartoon depicted Wright as a spider having been swept up in his web by a
broom. His smug American counterparts, meanwhile, had escaped the same fate.





Back in England, court artists had a field day during Wright’s appearances before the bench. Typical is this example from the Illustrated London News depicting Wright (centre left) at committal proceedings in London’s Guildhall in 1903.





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